The Republic of India, which is home to roughly 17% of the world’s population, has a rich culture that varies throughout its geographically diverse land. The region that we are currently in is known as Kerala (one of the 28 states of India). Within Kerala, we are in Wayanad, named as “The Land of the Patty Fields.”
With almost 36 hours of traveling and 48 hours without sleep… my bed at the Century Grand hotel couldn’t feel any better. But there’s always time to recap
We boarded our 0340 flight from Dubai destined for Calicut, India at around 0300, but noticed something interesting about the gate’s waiting area – it was almost entirely men. As you may have read in the post yesterday, our story for the documentary will primarily focus on gender roles in the village – this already has begun to confirm that men are play a dominant role in the household, and women rarely leave the home. If anything, this set us off on our flight to India feeling a little more confident about pursuing the approach that we had.
The flight was roughly four hours, but seemed like a short take off and landing compared to the last. We disembarked the plane into the hot, muggy air of India… we finally made it! …well almost.
After a grueling hour long wait in line at Immigrations (obviously the line we were in moved the slowest), we walked down another set of stairs which formed another line for “customs.” Now most customs I have gone through are just a set of doors: green for nothing to declare, red for those declaring. This was more like a pre-customs, where there was a retro x-ray bag scanner and a non-working metal detector. As I stood in line, more stereotypes of India were confirmed. The line was barely moving, but I had people trying to push me forward from all sides… Having been sleep deprived for almost 36 hours at this point, it took a lot of restraint to contain myself from snapping at the guy in the suit behind me that kept his shoulder lowered into me the whole time!
Everyone made it through, and miraculously all of our baggage and equipment came around the baggage claim – thank goodness. Upon exit of the terminal, at least a hundred kids, wives, and family members were all crowded by the exit waiting for their loved ones to arrive. We pushed our way through, stopped, and looked around at each other. We had made it through all of the hard parts… sighs of relief all around!
Our Van was labeled “Mercides” (believable)
The Program Director from Profugo, Aneesh, was there with a van for us. Tyler, one of Profugo’s Field Fellows, was also there. Tyler graduated from Villanova last year majoring in Chemical Engineering. He has been helping and living in Wayanad for the last 7 weeks now. We loaded up all of our gear and headed off for lunch about two hours down the road.
The basic idea about driving in India is that there are no rules (and driving on the left side of the road). We were zipping around, passing other cars, while barely missing head on collisions with oncoming traffic on the narrow roads – it’s an experience. Thankfully we made it to The White House restaurant for our first time Indian eating experience… and an experience it was. Food in India generally involves rice, some sort of sauce/meat/vegetable, and a bread. And it is all eaten with your right hand. No forks, no knives, no spoons: just your right hand. This alone was the experience, trying to eat rice, chicken (with bones), in a curry sauce, with one hand. A messy, delicious meal that will definitely improve over the next two weeks!
After cleaning our hands (and faces, for some of us) off from lunch, we hopped back in the van to continue our trip to our hotel. This leg of the trip was through some crazy winding roads up the mountain. When I say crazy and winding, I mean it. These roads are the same width as the other roads, jsust now there is a sheer 400 foot fall if you take a turn to wide… this mixed with rain and other oncoming cars made for an intersecting ride – BUT we saw some monkeys and stopped at the top of the road for a nice rain soaked group photo overlooking the region (see above!).
A quick stop at a supermarket, and we finally made it to our hotel. We had been traveling for over 40 hours, and I was overly excited about the warm shower waiting for me! Some more food of Buttered Chicken followed, along with a nice reflection with Devon, then it was the long awaited bed time!
***NOTE: WiFi has been very spotty, so it has been difficult to upload these photos and posts. That paired with a busy schedule has put me behind. Sorry!Tags: india, socialjusticedocumentary